"to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faithin me." Acts 26:18

Monday, July 28, 2014

Queen Elizabeth National Park Photo Dump

We have just returned from a lovely and much appreciated few days away at Queen Elizabeth National Park.  After three weeks of virtually no city water, it was great to escape to a beautiful part of the country and enjoy some days at a lodge and a game drive.

On the way to the park, we happened upon this lodge that came highly recommended as a great place to stop for lunch.  The lodge overlooked an absolutely beautiful view of a crater lake that sits at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains.  

We had fun exploring the lodge and area while we waited for our food.

We rented this beast of a mutatu for the week.  It was a blessing to have the extra space in the car, but we got pulled over so.many.times.  Sometimes the police would see that we were mzungu and just wave us on while laughing, sometimes they took Eric's license and examined it carefully to see if he was legally allowed to drive the van.  One police pulled us over on the way there and then again on the way back.  The second time he said, "Ah!  How was the park?  What did you bring for me?" haha!

Here is a small smattering of some of the animals we saw:

A water buck:

Wart-hogs are always fun to watch:

Uganda Kob:

But by far, our favorite sighting was the lions.  We drove for so many hours trying to find lions.  At one point, we saw some, but they were so far away from the road that you couldn't even really tell what they were.  We had all but given up, when we happened upon these guys resting just 10 meters from the road!

 Eventually the first one, got up and walked away.
 Afterwards, the second woke up, gave himself a cleaning and then also walked away.  It is quite something to be so close to such a wild, majestic and fierce animal with no fences between you and him.
Then we went for a boat ride down the channel.  It was so amazing!

The boat drove straight through all the groups of hippos.

One of the hippos was mama to this little baby.  He was so cute in a hippo sort of way!


Fish Eagles:

A beautiful stork:

Then we looked down river and saw these elephants.  We had seen a few elephants on our game drive  Most of them were hidden in the tall grasses.  But the boat driver took us straight up to this group.

After our boat ride, we went on a drive on a horrible road around several craters.  But even though the roads were rough, the views were beautiful.  Some of the craters were filled with trees.  This one was filled with sulfur and salt water.

After our game drive, the kids were eager to get back to our lodge and go swimming.  The lodge has two kiddie pools...an upper one and lower one that are connected by a tiled slide.  A very fun-but-would-never-be-seen-in-America-thanks-to-lawsuits slide.  They were having a blast until Benaiah fell against the rock wall and cut his forehead quite badly.  It wasn't a horrible wound, but it was obvious that it needed stitches or super glue.  The problem is, we don't just go to any clinic here...some aren't safe, some aren't really equipped to help well. The bigger cities where we could have gone were a few hours away and it was almost dark, so driving out wasn't really an option.  Thankfully, the manager had a new tube of super glue and was able to be convinced that it really is okay to super glue wounds.  She went from thinking we were absolutely crazy to coming to watch me fix it, so she would know how to do it next time.  Benaiah screamed and squinted his eyes right when I dropped in the glue, so it didn't come together in the most beautiful way (he will have a groovy scar), but we were thankful that it worked.

And Benaiah is thankful to be able to tell everyone who will listen, "The day I met a lion was the day I got this wound."

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Our visit with my parents...

My parents arrived in Uganda last week to visit with us.  While their visit has been filled with unexpected challenges, we are so glad that they are able to come and see where we call home these days.  I was hoping that their visit here would be a relaxing change of pace for all of us. 

We haven't quite seen the relaxing part yet, though.

The day before they arrived in country, I came down with a very bad case of malaria.  In retrospect, I should have checked into a hospital and done IV treatments, but I chose to treat using tablets instead.  I still managed to ride along to pick them up from the airport, but on their first full day here I ended up in a clinic in Kampala due to dehydration.  It wasn't until Monday that I finally started to round a corner.  

Most of you know that we were without water for 2 weeks.  Finally, it came back on Thursday...just in time for Dad and Mom...yay!  But by the time we got back from picking them up, we realized that while city water was on, it didn't have enough pressure to push up to our tank in order to fill it.  Our entire house, except for 1 faucet in the kitchen is hooked up to our tank, so no water in the tank means no water in the house.  Towards the middle of the week, we were able to buy a small water pump and pump the water through the hose to fill up our tank.  That worked for a day, but then finally city water went out all together again for two days.  Thankfully, it got fixed on Friday night and after now three weeks of water troubles, we have had mostly good (at least as good as it usually is on a weekend) water.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday brought puking kids.  Just a 24 hour bug, but no fun when there are lots of things to do with grandparents!

Thursday, everyone seemed healthy so we piled into the Land Rover and drove up to Sipi Falls to go hiking for the day.  We almost made it there, but then the Land Rover decided to blow yet another head gasket!  While Eric set up a tow truck and private hire van for us, the rest of us took bodas up to Sipi Falls...Dad and Mom's first boda ride! :)

Then, when we were hiking back down, my dad slipped and hit his back against a rock.  He either severely bruised or broke a rib.  We spent the next day at a clinic getting x rays, and although they didn't find a break, he's still in a lot of pain.

Then on Friday, Benaiah got a pretty bad chest cold.  As I was putting him to bed that night, I noticed he was breathing really fast.  I checked his oxygen saturation and he was at 89%.  Not too great.  So I told Eric, when either of us wake up, we really need to check him.  Enter Mom-fail, right here.  I woke up with a start at 5 am, realizing I had slept all night without checking on him.  I jumped up, found the monitor and checked him and he was at 80%.  I went to the kitchen to start a pot of water to boil to get some steam going (because of course we had no showers since we had no water still...) and tripped over chairs and a small table set up in the kitchen and wondered why they were there.  And then, I woke up Eric.  He rolled over and sleepily said, "I know, I've been up with him sitting in the kitchen (thus the chairs!) giving him steam."  What a great daddy!  He didn't even wake me up!  :)  So, as soon as daylight came to Mbale, we were able to get him to CURE hospital and onto oxygen and some antibiotics.  By the afternoon, he was able to go off the oxygen and stayed pretty good and then we went home in the late afternoon.  When he took a nap at the hospital, his levels had dipped a bit, so tonight Eric and I are taking turns staying awake to monitor him...

...and clean up puke from one more puking child...


but at least we have water to do the laundry tomorrow...

...and grandparents to read books and visit with... :)

And now, a few pictures...

Playing in a waterfall on the drive up Mt. Wanale:

My parents brought birthday gifts for each of the kids.  It was also my Dad's 70th birthday the day they flew here.  So we decided it would be great fun to have a birthday party for all the kids and dad.  And then my parents got to give each of the kids their gift.

On one of the days we were able to go out to visit a village and one of the village schools that has started.  We delivered some books that the public schools in Georgia were finished with and had donated to the schools here.  We also brought a stack of our books that we let the kids look at for a little while.  Then we walked to meet some of the church members, pray with them and then eat lunch at the pastor's house.

Here is a picture of our boda ride up to Sipi.

Dad holding a chameleon.

The kids found a swimming hole last time they went and were eager to go again.  The water was COLD though!

And here is a cell phone picture of little Benaiah at the hospital.  Even though he was sick, he thought it was great fun and really enjoyed his day.  haha!

Tomorrow, we are hoping to drive across the country and visit Queen Elizabeth National Park.  Please pray with us for safe travels, for my dad's rib to heal so he isn't in too much pain, for Benaiah to get the rest of the way better and for no more sick kids!  Thank you!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

This morning's visit to the village

This morning, I left our still-waterless house, and drove part way up Mt. Wanale to visit a lady who has been coming to church with her fully-orphaned (both parents died) grandson.  She started coming to our church through the invitation of her brother and sister-in-law, who are in the group that walks 10 kilometers from up the mountain.  This past Sunday I was able to sit with her for a time and talk with her for a couple minutes about the little bundle she always has tied on her back.  I was very surprised to hear that he was 7 months old.  I'm sure he doesn't weigh much more than 10 pounds.  She said (and I observed) that he has been quite sickly.  His mommy died just 2 days after he was born, so he has never had the opportunity to take breast milk and has suffered because of it.  His Jaja (grandmother) told me that some days she has milk to give him, many days she doesn't.

Monday came, and not being able to get his little face off my mind, I decided to buy some formula for him.  Then today, some Ugandan friends, Katelyn, Rebecca and Talitha and I were able to drive up to find her.  While I was there, I learned that she is mother to 15 children.  Four of her sons have married and live on the compound with her and her husband.  Two of her sons have died and left her with children.  In her old age, she now has 6 children to care for.  Two of the children half-orphans and still have a mother alive. (interesting cultural idea here:  it is always the responsibility of the father's family to care for the children in the event that a father dies.  It is very common that, after burying her husband, the mother leaves her children with his family and goes away to try to start over.)  They are ages 3 and 2 and are sitting to the far right in this picture.  The other four are all siblings; they are ages 7, 6, 4, and 7 month old Jackson.  They are all sitting next to their Jaja in this picture.

Here is their compound.

When I see a woman like this, I think "wow...what a strong lady."  She digs in the field to try to get food, she still struggles with sleepless nights, she carries the emotional weight of starting over in raising many children.  I'm praying for her today that she would know the love of God first, as seen in the gospel of Jesus and second as seen in the hands of his people working on his behalf.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Thank you for praying!

::Thank you so much for praying for this little girl!  We praise the Lord that she is on the mend now!  We still aren't 100% sure what was going on, but we think that it might have been a case of Typhus...or tick fever.  She had been bitten a few days before she got sick and all of her symptoms matched exactly.  Thankfully it is easy to treat and she has been on medicine for it for a few days now and is feeling so much better!  Her rash is fading, her fever is gone and she is walking normally today for the first time in a long time.  Several times this morning she would be playing and then randomly tell me, "Mom!  I'm feeling better!  Isn't that happy?"  Once, I said, "Yes and you should say thank you to God for that."  So she immediately burst out with great exuberance, "Thank you God for making me to feel better!!!"

::Our Land Rover is still in the shop, but hopefully it's on the mend too! :)

::And if you want to pray that our city water would come back soon, that would be grand.  We are now on day 6 with no city water...ugh...  It is so much worse for water to be off than power.  Bucket baths get old and toilets get stinky really quick.